PWA Sylt 2008

With the weather gods seemingly playing roulette with Sylt’s conditions, the race committee had a tough call to make when deciding which of the three disciplines would brave the ever changing North Sea on competition’s fourth day.
 
Freestyle was confirmed as the chosen discipline, and after a brief hailstorm, the first round competitors were summoned to compete in the ominous waters off the Sylt coast.
 
Head high breaking waves, chop from all angles, marginal to howling wind and the mother of all shore breaks provided a challenging backdrop for freestyle’s first outing.
 
From the outset, it became clear that the rider’s routines were going to limited to the confines of the super tricky conditions. However, this didn’t stop them from putting on a show of epic proportions for the loyal German fans.
 
The more tactical sailors were opting to start their heats far out to sea, where the onshore wind was strongest and the currents weakest. However, regardless of tactics, at some point all of the sailors had to work their way back towards the beach, where the only way to get planning was with the assistance of the dumping shore break.
 
After a fairly conservative first round of heats, the higher ranked sailors started to raise their games and in turn the magnitude of their moves. Highlight of the second round was Taty Frans (Starboard, North Sails) versus Antxon Otaegui (JP, NeilPryde, MFC). Otaegui threw down a comprehensive mix of sliding and aerial moves, leaving the flamboyant Frans to counter in his typically gung-ho style. A spirited performance reached its crescendo when Frans opted to attempt a move on the face of a churning monster. The gamble resulted in him being washed all the way to the feet of the on looking crowd, and effectively extinguished any hope of him advancing, despite winning over the spectators.

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PWA Sylt 2008

Launching into action on competition’s third day, the slalom fleet dueled with the infamous Sylt shore break to pick up race one where it had been left off the previous day. Warning up the weather beaten German crowds, Bjorn Dunkerbeck (North Sails) drew first blood after sailing to victory in the opening heat, then the subsequent semi-final, granting him right of passage into the race final.
 
Also winning their second round heats were the UK’s Ross Williams (Tabou, Gaastra) and France’s Julien Quentel (Starboard, NeilPryde), who advanced to take their seats in the second semi final.
 
In that heat, it was Finian Maynard (RRD, NeilPryde) that adapted best to the challenging and highly changeable conditions, piecing together a solid performance that ultimately earned him victory, and his place in the race final.
 
Moving onto the losers final, spectators were treated to the rare spectacle of a three-man sail-off, after four of the competing sailors false started, and Turkish sailor Bora Kozanoglu (Starboard) missed the heat through injury. This left Jimmy Diaz (Starboard, North Sails), Gonzalo Costa Hoevel (Exocet, NeilPryde, MFC) and Dorian van Rijsselberge (JP, NeilPryde) to battle it out.
 
Diaz took the reigns of the heat from the first reach and remained untouchable right to the finish line, leaving Van Rijsselberge to take second place and Costa Hoevel in third.
 
Rolling onto the final, 27 year old French race specialist, Sylvain Moussilmani (F2, Simmer) made his intentions clear from the outset, sailing to the front of the pack, and into the clean air on the first reach. Unphased by the likes of Arnon Dagan (Fanatic, Gaastra) and Dunkerbeck breathing down his neck, Moussilmani kept his composure around the four-gybe course to be rewarded with victory, and in turn the early event lead.

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PWA Sylt 2008 

A fresh 11-16 knot breeze accompanied by clear blue sky provided a promising start to competitions second day in Sylt. Unfortunately, the prospect of racing in the perfect North Sea conditions was to be short lived.
 
Just moments after the sailors of heat ten hit the water to resume racing, the wind backed off, forcing the heat to be abandoned. The subsequent heat had more luck, and successfully secured the only result of the day, when Ross Williams (Tabou, Gaastra), Gabriel Browne (Mistral, MauiSails), Finian Maynard (RRD, NeilPryde) and Jimmy Diaz (Starboard, North Sails) qualified from heat 11, and proceeded into the following round of race one.
 
Despite the race committee’s repeated efforts to restart competition, the wind refused to play ball, and ultimately resulted in the day drawing to a close with just one heat completed.
 
While competition was on standby, we took the opportunity to ask Micah Buzianis (JP, NeilPryde, MFC), one of slaloms most emphatic stars (and Sylt’s celebrity commentator), about his injury, and outlook on the 2009 season.
 
PWA: How’s your recovery progressing?
 
MB: “It’s going well, but slower than I’ve have liked. I still haven’t been able to go out on the water. Just before coming out here I had some x-rays taken, and the doctors said I should be ready to get on a board again in a week or ten days, but that’ll be real gentle cruising to see how it goes. It’ll take some time before I can really push it again.”
 
PWA: Do you expect to be fully fit for the start of the 2009 season?
 
MB: “Ah, yeah, I’ll be fully fit before the end of this year, and back to full strength for next season.”
 
PWA: Was there ever a possibility that you were going to compete in the Sylt World Cup?
 
MB: “That was my goal, and I probably could have, but the repercussions may have ruined my training over the winter or even some of next season. Up until a week ago I was seriously considering it, I figured if I could get a week or so of sailing in, in Maui before coming here, that I might have just about been ready. But, if I couldn’t do that, I didn’t want to come here without any sailing under my belt.”

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